Friday, June 7, 2013

Serving a Dead God

Sunday morning alter call. An invitation is made, earnest prayers are offered. When response occurs, salvation ensues and a miracle takes place that very often escapes the natural senses and is thereby diminished in many minds for the truth of its grandeur; an event that causes Heaven itself to pause in celebration and angels to erupt in praise. Eternal death and separation is purged and eternal life bursts forth transforming the spirit.  For us so often bound by a handful of sensory perceptions, minutes pass as platform music ceases and we await an exit prayer to resume the remainder of our day.

Or perhaps no one responds and the question is simply "how many know Him as Lord?" Often hands are raised, not in celebration or in exuberant ownership of adoption into His eternal living family, but rather out of an obligatory response where we'd prefer not to be perceived as having problems in our faith-walk. (Litmus test - try keeping your hand down next time the question is posed and witness where your pride takes you.)

Mid-week; is He in your car on the way home? In your office, next to you while you hold the tools of your trade, or firmly in your thoughts as move through your day with children in tow? Where is your God? Do you feel his presence at all?  Or do you have Him neatly compartmentalized in morning quiet times, evening meal prayers, and bedtime devotions? Surrounded by people passing through this plane towards eternity, do you walk through your days in mental isolation as you formulate plans, tasks, conversations and correspondences?  Do you move through your days until it is time to pull the covers in darkness only to repeat the process again?  Where is your God?

To the external observer, is He alive in you and through you or is He a ritual, a rite of afterlife salvation that is practiced with regularity to avoid hellfire?  Church attendance, charitable works, contributions, and even a reigning in of your tongue all noted by others - you have become yet another devout follower of religion. The world has many with little power to transform or rise above the chains that shackle the flesh.

Or does your God revolutionize the way you touch your world, walk through it, relate to those within it? Does He empower you to move beyond your own limitations and strengths into something far beyond you, your flesh and your capabilities? Do you walk in joy when hell is erupting around you? Are you capable of reaching out to others when wave after wave washes against your foundations, trying to pull you down into the current? Are you able to persevere when others abandon?  When friend and family turn on you, do you know in your heart of hearts the power of a Father who states "I will never leave you or forsake you"?

There is a continual call for intimacy laden throughout His Word. God yearns for us to enter into deep relationship with Him; the kind where moment by moment we are in touch with His thoughts and person.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

"Never stop praying."  Prayer; the simple act of communication. "But how can I seriously continually talk to God;  continually be in contact with someone I cannot see?" In a society where phones and mobile devices are set to chime with every social network update from friends and family, is continual communication such a difficult concept to grasp?  Do we stumble over the mental roadblock of formulating just how we could possibly spend the entirety of our day in fellowship with the One who is far more interested in us than any one person on our "friends" list and who knows us far more intimately than any family member or spouse. 

"At that time you will ask (pray) in My Name; and I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf, for it will be unnecessary.  For the Father Himself tenderly loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from the Father."
John 16:26-27  AMP

His wish is that we would desire to step beyond knowing about Him and come to know Him, personally, with similar passion.  But our careless and nonchalant irreverence towards this greatest eternal love affair is often what keeps us from witnessing the miraculous and truly wonderful in our own lives.  It has always been His goal that we become so energized by the life we have in Him that we cease being entangled by the eternally trivial that weighs down most who walk this plane.  This does not mean storms do not arise or that need is never present.

"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows."
John 10:10 AMP

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
Matthew 6:33 NLT

This is the relationship that empowers, it is this pursuit of person that energizes and brings life into death transforming worlds and spheres of influence.  This is the beacon that shatters religion and makes a mockery of man's institutions of ritual. It is the force that draws men to Him; the believer living out the love and life of Christ, literally Christ in us, for the world to see. When others witness hell erupting and God's life pouring forth from you, the paradox fascinates, draws, inspires and tugs at the hearts and minds of a world desperately searching for substance. All too familiar are the gods of self-appeasement and ritual that change little in the human condition.  But in witnessing God in action through His children's lives, they will know that you do not serve a dead, but a very real, living, and powerful God.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


"Gethsemane".  The very name brings images of darkness, struggle, the spilling of blood, and betrayal.  Ponder for a minute why this simple garden geography has taken its place in history as sacred ground still venerated by the masses.  No temples or monuments of note were present.  Was it because of the One who walked there in the hours before His death?  He walked many places, partook of a passover meal, healed the sick - all in the hours/days before His death.  Of all the geographies visited and footsteps taken in the dust over the span of a brief number of years, what causes this grove to possess such weight in our thinking?

The power of Gethsemane is not in who visited, but in what was tested.  Faith was tested.  Will was tested.  Trust was tested.  "How could these be tested of the Son of God?  Certainly He would never lose faith in His father"  Have you ever lost faith in your Heavenly Father?  Doubted direction or consequence of obedience?  Have you ever lost trust in the One who is immutable, having placed your eyes on the imposing nature the mountains in your path?

"So it is evident that it was essential that He be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful, sympathetic, and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the people’s sins.  For because He Himself, in His humanity, has suffered in being tempted, tested, and tried, He is able immediately to run to the cry of, assist, relieve those who are being tempted and tested and tried and who therefore are being exposed to suffering."
Hebrews 2:17-18  AMP

In this, we know that Jesus did not approach this garden as a super-human, demigod empowered to withstand through the sheer force of identity.  A man walked into that grove, asking close friends to wait and pray as he stepped further into the night.  In that darkness obedience was buffeted, fear descended, and the overwhelming weight of physical and emotional torment yet to be suffered crashed down.  A knowledge of hell on earth was present as every sensible option screamed "WALK AWAY - YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS!  THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER WAY!"  A pounding heart, tears burning eyes, a body tormented to the point of blood droplets forming.  Would a loving Father truly ask His child to step into darkness?

Surrender.  "Not my will..."

Surrender.  This is the Father's desire for each of us.  Complete, total, surrender.  But what if His leading turns downward into darkness.  What if the One calling for complete trust leads us into, what to any sensible mind, could only result in pain, loss, or sacrifice.  Are we willing to trust Him with our eternal lives?  Are we willing to trust that the Omniscient One knows a far greater eternal outcome than our personal comfort or safety can secure?  Will we step into darkness when we cannot know the end or the sum total of the risks; step forward simply because it is He who asks?  Or like the would-be-disciple in Luke 9:61, do we cautiously place our commitment?  "I will follow, but...."

What is being asked may seem impossible, improbable, and unlikely to turn out well.  The storm you find yourself in may cause you to daily cling ever more tightly to Him and His word.  Friends and family may abandon as they fail to understand your path, fail to share your conviction.  There may be days were each breath is an act of faith and every step forward is born of willful determination in the valley through which you tread.  Will you surrender to His will to continue or will you opt for a less painful relationship - one born out of lines in the sand to remain uncrossed and hidden portions of your heart to remain untouched?  He loves you regardless and salvation is already achieved by faith in His Son.  But will you surrender and let Him lead you to your greatest potential and impact on a sinful and dying race?

"Not my will..."  Like Him, the key to your Gethsemane is surrender.